Friday, June 29, 2018

Author FAQ: Two Ways to Get a Book Agent

Q: What is the best way to go about getting an agent for publishing a book?  Any tricks of the trade?

A: Disclaimer: I don't have a book agent, so let's just say I've been around long enough to have heard a thing or two.

There are two ways that I know of to get a book agent. The first is to Google for a list of legit agents I say legit because there are plenty of scammers out there who offer expensive "editing services" and the like. These hucksters prey upon starry-eyed newbies who are desperate for representation. In other words, be cautious. Once you find a reputable source of agency names, go to their websites and see what their submission guidelines are. Is a certain agency repping books like yours? If not, don't bother. If you write hard sci-fi and the agency you're thinking of contacting mostly represents romance authors, move on or you'll just end up looking stupid. I only say this because I've read complaints from agents who are the victims of blanket "Dear Agent" queries where it's obvious the author has done little or no research on the agency they're querying. It's a waste of your time and theirs.

Once you've found an agency that looks like they might be a good fit, check their guidelines to see if they're accepting submissions, and send them a query letter in which you briefly describe the project and ask them if they'll take a look. Books like "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books" and "Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market" offer lots of helpful advice regarding agents and how to get one. 

The other way is an old classic. Ask a repped author you know for a referral. I briefly had an agent when "Nonsense! He Yelled" was first published. My editor was kind enough to set things up. The agent was a nice person, but I quickly discovered that she wasn't really interested in building the career of a beginning picture book author (no $). In retrospect, I probably should have waited until I had more successful books on my list.

Side Note: With the rise of self-publishing, many authors are not even bothering to query agents--feeling, frankly, that since they're not seeking publication with one of the big houses, they don't need an agent. Personally, I'm in this camp...until the right agent comes along. ;)

That being said, if you're agent-less and are fortunate enough to be offered a contract by a publisher (it happens), it wouldn't be a bad idea to spend a few bucks and have an attorney who specializes in book contracts take a look at it. It's not that the publishing houses are an evil lot who will try and rip you off (most of the contracts are standard "boiler plate" affairs), it's that they'll be acting more in their own interest than yours. 

For example, let's say that you come up with a chapter book that has the potential to become a series. There might be wording in the contract that states you'll be paid the same dollar amount in advance money for all subsequent titles. What if your first book is a mega hit? Wouldn't you like to be in the position to negotiate a larger advance for the next book? Having a pro (agent or attorney) look at your contract will pay off in the long run.

I'm sure some of my author friends have thoughts about getting an agent, and I invite them to share these thoughts in the comments.

Thoughts about the above question or about writing books in general? Leave them in the comments or send them to me via the CONTACT tab. Thanks!

Note: Any book links in my posts are likely to be Amazon Associates links where clicking on them will take you to Amazon. This "feature" costs you nothing and gets me a tiny tiny percentage of the sale should you purchase the book.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Treehouse Detectives Begins Streaming June 8th

How cool is this? Treehouse Detectives, the preschool series I wrote on last year, begins streaming on Netflix this Friday, 6/8/18. It's a super-fun little show and I think kids are really going to love it.

Please check it out!

From Netflix:
Treehouse Detectives


When their animal friends need help, brother-and-sister team Toby and Teri use the clues and follow the facts to solve mysteries in their own backyard.

Brody Allen, Jenna Davis, Ryan Bartley

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer!

Saturday, May 26, 2018


Had a great week at the 'Hello Ninja' writers' summit. A fun group of people coming up with lots of hilarious ideas. It's gonna be an awesome show! #netflix #basedonthebook

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Animation Writer FAQ: Writing Animated Features

Q: I am a writer and I've got an idea for an animated feature. I just have the idea and couple of different endings. I have two contacts through my sister in LA who are producers for big animated companies. I spoke to one and she definitely believes it is definitely a full-length feature film that no one has done, yet. She told me that I needed to own it as long as I can, write the treatment, screenplay. I have no experience in writing scripts. Do you have any advice or can suggest any materials that someone like me could follow? I get very frustrated when I write. So far I am just watching as many films as I can and reading other scripts. -- Marie

A: Hi, Marie. I only write TV animation, but I'm happy to share a thought or two on how to write an animated screenplay. Watching lots of films and reading lots of scripts is a great place to start. When you feel like you're ready to start writing, I would recommend three other things. First, even though "no one has done" a script like yours yet, determine an animated feature that your idea most closely resembles, then hunt around on the web for a copy of that script (there are many resources, some free) and use it as a model/template for your own idea. I'm not telling you to copy it, just to use it to see how professionals execute an idea similar to your own.

Next, you may want to pick up a copy of Syd Field's classic how-to book, Screenplay. It'll bring you up to speed on how to structure a screenplay. There are similar books out there, but I learned how to do it from Syd.

Finally, you may want to invest in some screenwriting software to make sure your script looks right. I use Final Draft, which is the industry standard. This kind of software is a little pricey but I think well worth the investment if you plan on writing professionally. Good luck!


Thoughts about the above question or about writing for animation in general? Leave them in the comments or send it to me via the CONTACT tab.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Such a Deal! GHOST STAR On Sale $0.99 All April

As you saw in an earlier post, Amazon decided to do a price-drop marketing promotion for Ghost Star. All this month my little YA space opera is discounted from $2.99 to $0.99 per Kindle copy. Not too shabby for anyone looking to save a couple of bucks on an action-packed sci-fi read.

There are TWO WEEKS left on the promo, so if you haven't already picked up your copy, now's a good time to do so.

Also, please share this bargain with your family and friends. I'll thank you for it and I think they will too.

Clicking HERE will take you to the Ghost Star Amazon page.


Monday, April 9, 2018

Book Illustrator FAQ: Where do I start?

Q: My mother has been a professional artist for over 40 years and has recently put together a wonderful portfolio of children's book illustration examples. Her forte is definitely in the area of illustration so she would like to somehow team with a writer to put together a book. She has sent her portfolio to a number of publishers, but has yet to be connected with a writer and ultimately published. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

A: I'm an author. I only restate the obvious to warn you about the questionable value of advice from an author to an aspiring illustrator. That being said, here are some thoughts.

It's good that your Mom has put together a portfolio because, as she has discovered, you must have one to get work. Obviously, a portfolio filled with picture book appropriate art samples would be better to have for this purpose than one of poster art or portraiture. I have heard of writers and illustrators teaming up "on spec," but this seems to be the exception to the rule -- usually husband and wife teams, old friends, etc. Side note: When I first started writing books, I was concerned that I was going to have to find my own illustrator. But a little research quickly revealed that publishers actually prefer it if authors don't come in with their own artwork (unless the illustrations are exceptionally good). Part of the satisfaction that an editor or publisher gets from their job is in the pairing up of the right illustrator with the right author.

So, all that being said, here are some thoughts on getting work as a children's book illustrator...

Your Mom could write and illustrate her own book. Author/Illustrators are a well-respected double threat in the kid's book trade (and get to keep ALL of the money!). If she's not crazy about writing an original story, she might want to think about "re-telling" a classic fairy tale or obscure folk story -- something in the public domain.

There are also agents that handle illustrators but how to find one of them is far outside of my area of expertise, so she’ll have to look into that herself. The links I mention below might prove helpful.

Another approach would be for her to keep slugging away and submitting her portfolio to the various publishing houses. 

Try visiting the FAQs on the Children's Book Council website. They're the trade organization for all the children's book publishers and they provide a great deal of helpful info. Anyway, they're great place to start. The rest of the site has a lot of useful info, too.

I'd also recommend the most recent edition of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books". It really helped me out on the author side of things with practical "how to" tips and I've read that the latest edition provides a lot of useful info for illustrators, too. 

Tell your Mom "good luck" from me!


 If you have a question about writing books, send it to me via the CONTACT tab or leave them in the comments. Thanks!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Blog Tour: Wild Fire by Scott Bury

Happy to be a stop on the blog tour of Scott Bury's, Wild Fire. Check out the excerpt, links, and other important info for Scott's brand new mystery thriller! -RE


Wildfire: Charlie the terrier

Tara felt panic tightening her chest. She leaned forward, hand on the desk. “I do know something
about this business, Mr. DaSilva.”
“Please, call me Alan.”
“I know you’ve won a number of awards over the years. Gold medals, prix d’honneur, more. Yours is one of the smaller wineries in the Sonoma Valley with one of the best reputations. And from what I’ve read, there are several competitors who are jealous of the piece of land you have for the grapevines. They say it’s the most ideal location for a terroir in California—with the best soil, best drainage, the perfect situation to the sun.”

Alan was nodding, a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. He twirled the pencil again. “Do go on.”
Tara swallowed. “But apparently, you’ve been struggling to keep up with demand for your product. There have been some accidents in the ... oh, I forget the technical term ...” Damn it, Tara, pull yourself together. This is no time for memory lapses. “In the production area. Damage to some of your larger tanks and bottling lines. They set you back and cost you a lot of money.”
Alan continued to nod, but he no longer smiled. “That’s true. We had a string of unexplained accidents last year.”
Oh, no, now he’s not happy anymore. Way to blow the first job interview you’ve had in California, Tara
Bring it back to the positive. “But you’ve also had some good news in the past two years. Your restaurant got a Michelin star, and nothing but great ratings in all the reviews.”
A faint smile touched Alan’s mouth again. “That’s right. The restaurant has done—is doing—very well. Making money. That’s mostly due to my wife. She found our new chef, and managed to convince him to come way out here to work. And she managed to get some big-name restaurant reviewers to make the drive up from San Francisco, too.” He looked out the window, too, and the smile vanished. “I still don’t really know how she managed to do that.” He took a deep breath and turned his hazel eyes to Tara again. “All right, your résumé proves you’re smart and ambitious, and Sophia said you were a hard worker. What did you do for her?”
Tara shrugged. “Nothing much. We just sort of met by accident. I needed a place to stay. She needed some help around the house and the diner she owns. I helped her and stayed in her guest bedroom for a few days. I said I was looking for some steadier work, and she mentioned you.”
“So, you’ve worked in Sophia’s restaurant?”
“Yes, just helping with some of the food prep.”
“Did you study food service?”
“No, but I worked in a restaurant in the summers between college terms. I love to cook.” Talk yourself up, Tara. “And I’m good at it. Very good.”
DaSilva nodded. “Anything else I should know about you?”
“I have a black belt in karate. I got that when I was in high school.”
“Wow. A dangerous woman. Remind me never to get into a fight with you. I don’t know whether we can use you in the winery, but we do need some help in the kitchen.”
The dog came to her and pressed its nose between Tara’s knees. “Charlie, down,” Alan said. The dog looked at Alan and whined. Alan pointed at the floor where the dog had been sleeping. “Charlie,” he repeated. 
The dog whined again but sat down where it had been, its eyes fixed on Tara. 
“What kind of dog is Charlie?” Tara asked.
“A terrier mix.” Alan leaned over and patted its head, and the tail swished back and forth across the floor. “Not the smartest dog in the world, but he does know good people. Everyone who works here has had to pass the Charlie test.”
“What’s the Charlie test?”
“Charlie has to make friends with you. Well, one person isn’t Charlie’s friend. But … never mind.” Alan sat back in his chair and fixed an intent look on Tara’s eyes. “We’ve had a lot of turnover in the last few months. Chef Donald is great, but he’s not exactly the easiest guy in the world to work for. If you’ve got a thick skin, I can put you to work in the kitchen. The pay’s not great, but it’s steady, and it comes with room and board. You can start tonight, if that works for you.”
Alan smiled again and stood up. “Like I said, Chef’s not easy to work for. We had a line cook quit last night.” He reached a hand across the desk and Charlie got up again, his tail wagging fast. “So, you ready to work?”
Tara looked into Alan’s hazel eyes. She noticed the very middle of the iris, a narrow rim around the deep black pupil, was like a ring of green fire. 


Wildfires swept across California wine country in 2017, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, and killing dozens of people. Law school grad and single mother Tara Rezeck finds herself in the middle of the catastrophe. When she returns to her job at the most award-winning vineyard in Sonoma County, she finds her employer’s body in the ashes.

The question that challenges her brains and her legal training is: was it an accident? Or was his body burned to hide evidence of murder?

Now available for pre-order on on Amazon (for Kindle e-readers) and Smashwords (for Kobo, Nook and other e-readers). 

You can read the first two chapters for free on Wattpad.

About the author

After a 30-year career as a journalist and editor, Scott Bury turned to writing fiction with a children’s story, Sam, the Strawb Part, and a story that bridged the genres of paranormal occult fiction and espionage thriller: Dark Clouds. Since then, he has published 12 novels and novellas without regard to staying in any one genre.

In 2012, he published his first novel, the historical magic realism bestseller The Bones of the Earth. His next book, One Shade of Red, was a satire of a bestseller with a similar title.
From 2014 to 2017, he published the Eastern Front Trilogy, the true story of a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in 1941, and how he survived the Second World War: Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War.

Scott was invited to write for three Kindle Worlds, where authors base novellas on the fictional worlds of bestselling series. For Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World, he wrote Torn Roots, Palm Trees & Snowflakes, Dead Man Lying and Echoes.

For Russell Blake’s Jet Kindle World, he contributed Jet: Stealth, featuring the explosive duo of Van and LeBrun.

And for Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye Kindle World, he brought Van and LeBrun back for The Wife Line and The Three-Way

Now, he is beginning a new mystery series with Wildfire, featuring the smart and passionate Tara Rezeck. Wildfire is currently available for pre-order on Amazon (for Kindle e-readers) and Smashwords (for Kobo, Nook and other e-readers). 

Find out more about Scott and his writing on his website,